Back and Tricep Workout: A Short Guide for Lean Guys
Did you know that you by training specific muscle groups together, you can increase your overall gains by proper back and tricep workout?
You’ll find other workout gurus (including Arnold Schwarzenegger) advocating for working back and biceps together.
But we’re going to turn that routine on its head and modify his recommendation to concentrate on your back and triceps together instead.
Why Work Back and Triceps Together
It might seem strange to stray from the path of the former Mr. Universe, but we’ve got our reasons for deviating from his routine.
First of all, if you’re a lean guy and you’re working on either maintaining your svelte physique, or you’re looking to build mass, your methods will need to be slightly different.
Let us explain:
- If you work back and biceps together, your blood is pumping in both the front and back of your body. But, if you focus on back and triceps, the blood flow is concentrated in the back half of the body.
- When you work your back muscles, your biceps already get the benefit of that workout, so by working your back and your biceps on different days, you’re able to exercise them more frequently without teardown or injury. One of the workouts (the bicep and chest workout) will directly work the biceps, while the back conditioning will indirectly work your biceps.
These Muscle Groups Are Often Ignored
As guys, we tend to focus on what we see in the mirror, the so-called “vanity muscles.”
You’ve heard the saying that “friends don’t let friends skip leg day.”
The same should be said for the back and triceps.
Since they’re behind you, you might not pay a lot of attention to them.
Plus, this is where a lot of guys (even lean guys) tend to accumulate extra fat.
By structuring your workout to include both your back and your triceps, you’ll be able to achieve the best results.
How this Workout Is Structured
This workout includes 4 supersets.
A super set, if you don’t already know, is two to three exercises grouped together.
The activities in the supersets will alternate between back and triceps with an occasional surprise thrown in to keep you on your toes.
We recommend structuring your workout in alternating supersets (just follow along with us) so that you allow your muscles time to recover between sets instead of burning out the entire muscle group and needing to take longer breaks.
Not only will you feel stronger at the end of the workout, but you’ll also be able to complete your sets in a shorter amount of time.
You may see some people say to take zero breaks between supersets.
We think a 60 to 90-second break, especially to grab a sip of water is reasonable.
How Many Reps Should I Do and How Much Weight Should I Use?
This number is highly individualized and also depends on how you prefer to lift.
For example, some bodybuilders recommend staggering the length of time it takes to lift and drop a weight.
What this means is that you may take one second to lift the weight (meaning it’s done in a swift, fluid movement), and then you lengthen the amount of time it takes you to lower the weight.
Other gurus recommend a steady pace, and still others suggest varying the tempo.
One thing that everyone agrees on is to do reps until failure.
That number will be different for each individual and could vary by the set number. Many people find that they’re strongest on their second set of an exercise and will be able to do the most reps on that set.
For the purpose of this guide, we recommend opting for 8 to 12 reps for each exercise. If in doubt, try for 10 and adjust up or down as needed.
If you’ve completed 12 reps of a single exercise and you still feel like you’ve got some juice left, add more weight on your next set. and if you find that you’re gassed after 8 reps or fewer, then lower the weight on the next set.
So, without further ado, here’s the back and tricep workout that we recommend doing two to three times per week.
Wide Grip Lat Pulldowns
- Sit down on the bench and reach for the bar above.
- Take a wide grip, so you’ll be able to really feel this exercise in your back.
- Pull down in a fluid, controlled movement.
- Kneel with one knee on a bench. Feel free to use your hand on the same side for support.
- Holding the weight in your free hand, hinge it behind you as you lift. Your elbow should remain close to your body.
- Do all the reps on one side, and then switch to the other side to repeat.
Dumbbell Bent Over Row
- Start with your right knee and hand resting on a flat bench with a dumbbell resting on the left side of the bench.
- Grab the weight with your left hand and lift straight up toward the ceiling. Keep your chest parallel to the ground.
- Make sure you are lifting the dumbbell with your back as that’s what this exercise is meant to work.
- Switch sides and repeat.
Tricep Extension with Curling Bar
- Lie on your back on a bench. You should have a curling bar resting on your chest.
- Position the curling bar straight behind you and over your head. If it’s difficult to support the weight behind you, get a spotter or decrease the weight of your bar.
- Curl the bar inward toward your forehead (be careful not to hit yourself).
- With control, put the bar back to neutral over your head and repeat for a total of 10 reps.
- This exercise is relatively self-explanatory, but here’s a quick review.
- Find a horizontal bar and hang from it.
- Then, pull yourself up, so your chin reaches the bar or goes slightly above it.
- Maintain a wide grip to maximize back shredding.
- If you can’t do 10 pull-ups without help, use the machine that allows you to select the amount of body weight you’d like assistance in lifting.
- Or, tie a TRX band to the pull-up bar and then loop it around your foot for moderate assistance.
Tricep Extension with Rope
- Stand about two to three feet away from the machine. Use the rope that looks like a wishbone that has knotted ends. You can also use the triangular bar or a single cable, depending on your preference.
- Grip the rope and pull it straight down, keeping your elbows close to your body.
- At the bottom of the movement, tense your tricep muscles to feel an additional burn.
Mule Exercise (Also called Ab Pulldown)
- Use either a rope or bar connected to your weights. You should be at the same machine where you did your tricep extensions. You can even use the same rope!
- Hold the rope or bar close to your head and kneel down on the ground.
- Pull the cord or bar down to the ground until your elbows touch the floor.
- For this particular exercise, opt for 15 to 20 reps.
Seated Low Row
- Sit up straight and keep your chest lifted.
- Reach for the triangular bar and pull it straight back.
- Use control as you pull the weight back and then release it forward.
Seated Overhead Tricep Extension
- Grab your weight, rest it on your shoulder and sit on upright on a bench.
- Push the weight over your head and extend your arms straight up.
- Then, keeping your elbows near your ears, lower the weight behind you. The heavier the weight you’re lifting, the more your elbows will splay out but do your best to keep them close to your head.
- Start in pushup position.
- Drop your forearms and elbow to the ground.
- Keep your back and the rest of the body straight and parallel to the floor.
- Hold this pose for one minute.
- Feel free to add additional challenges like lifting one leg off the ground.
End with a Short Cardio Activity
Your cardio workout doesn’t need to be a sweaty marathon.
We suggest a one to two-mile run on the treadmill. Choose a moderate pace with a one to two percent incline to simulate outdoor running.
If running bores you to tears, here are some ways to spice up the workout:
- Try a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) run. Sprint for 30 seconds and then jog for 90 seconds. You’ll find that the time passes a lot faster and you’ll get some increased fat burning benefits.
- Every few minutes, slow down your pace and do a lateral shuffle. So much of what we do only employs a forward and back range of motion. By moving laterally, you challenge yourself to strengthen new muscle groups and also build supporting muscles and tissues that will help you avoid injury.